The Place: Royal Bavarian Schnitzel Haus German Restaurant, recently closed for renovation, has re-opened just in time for Oktoberfest celebrations the next three weekends. The owner will don leather lederhosen, while waitresses will wear traditional dirndl to serve Oktoberfest specials alongside large mugs of Paulaner Oktoberfest-Marzen beer with a foamy head and sun-warmed hay and malt notes. Wear a dirndl or lederhosen and get a free beer. The new décor has an updated look with white walls and brown wainscoting, framed prints of nude cherubs, cowhide-upholstered chairs, tile flooring and a huge faux evergreen wreath suspended from the ceiling painted Bavarian blue with puffy clouds with fairy lights. In back there is a beer garden shaded by numerous trees with potted plants.
The History: Owner-chef Alex Richter is from Munich, where he ran nightclubs. After burning out he came to Puerto Rico with a German friend in 1988, then to Miami where he sensed the city was going to enjoy a renaissance and wanted to be part of that while reinventing himself. He ran an Italian restaurant, then cooked at Dab Haus in Miami Beach and bought Edelweiss on Biscayne Boulevard with the first patio seating in the area. He sold Edelweiss and opened Schnitzel Haus 13 years ago when he was the only restaurant on the stretch of 79th Street between Biscayne and the first bridge going east.
The Food: The dishes are mostly traditional Bavarian with giant salted pretzels with obatzer “messy cheese” spread made from brie, cream cheese, sautéed red onions and caraway seeds; various wurst with curry ketchup and mustard; pounded, breaded and fried schnitzel, and seafood including Idaho trout with sherry sauce. Start off with herring in sour cream or potato pancakes with apple sauce and sour cream or smoked salmon and caviar and move onto pork pot roast in dark beer sauce with red cabbage and dumplings or roasted half a duck in cherry sauce with potatoes. Oktoberfest specials include wurst salad made with thinly sliced ring sausage in a vinegar and oil dressing; Munich weisswurst (boiled white sausage made from veal and a little pork); Berlin-style currywurst served with fries and mayo; spaetzle sautéed in butter with Swiss cheese; and the Oktoberfest board for one or two with leberkaes (thinly sliced pork and beef meat loaf), smoked pork belly, Genoa salami, liver pate, obatzer, brie, pickles and bread and butter. Wies’n pfand’l are iron skillets that can be shared — try the one with grilled Nuremberg-style pork bratwurst, sauerkraut and potatoes or Oktoberfest bratwurst seasoned with marjoram with a beef slider and pork chop. Save room for apple strudel or marzipan stollen with whipped cream.
You Didn’t Know This: The first Oktoberfest was held in 1810 in honor of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The festivities began on Oct. 12 and ended on Oct. 17 with a horse race and beer stalls set up on the “die wiesen” or fields in front of the city gates where the citizens of Munich were invited to celebrate. The newlyweds had such a great time at their party they decided to make it an annual event that celebrates its 206th year this year.
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If You Go
Place: Royal Bavarian Schnitzel Haus German Restaurant & Pils Bar
Address: 1085 NE 79th St., Miami
Hours: Monday-Thursday 6 p.m.-midnight, Friday and Saturday 6 p.m.-2 a.m.
Prices: Oktoberfest menu $6.50-$45, appetizers $6-$18, entrees $16-$28, schnitzel $18-$27, desserts $6-$12
FYI: The Oktoberfest menu will available the next three weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) starting Sept. 23. Wear a dirndl or lederhosen and get a free beer.